Book Review - Merry-go-Round on the Rails

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Book Review - Merry-go-Round on the Rails

Postby Richard Oldfield » Sun Jun 10, 2012 8:26 pm

Merry-Go-Round on the Rails by David Monk-Steel
Published by the Historical Model Railway Society in 2011. ISBN 978-0-902835-30-6
Hardback, 194 pages with 202 pictures plus other maps, diagrams and figures.
Price = £32.50 (or £22.00 for HMRS members)

This is a BIG book and I received my copy with matching expectations of what it would deliver. The air-braked HAA wagon has been a major part of the railway scene for over 40 years and, in Mostyn’s time-setting of 1977, their increasing use was beginning to spell the end for the massed ranks of unfitted and vacuum-braked 16T, 21T and 24T mineral wagons and coal hoppers. Whilst we have already built a considerable number of the earlier types, the HAA is still missing from our roster and this book should be a considerable help. So, without further ado, let’s delve into the contents.

The first 20-odd pages cover the development of the National Grid, early block load workings and a random assortment of pre-HAA coal-carrying wagon drawings. No space is found for a drawing of the ubiquitous BR 16T mineral wagon but other rarer examples are featured – more frustratingly the drawings are reproduced in various scales, none of which lend themselves to easy modelling. I suppose you could look on this section as a bonus but it did nothing for me.

Merry-Go-Round operation is covered in the second chapter and there is lots of useful information about loading and unloading operations. This includes a series of BR diagrams of the sequence of door opening/closing operations which are, again, reproduced in a range of different sizes for no obvious reason. Some excellent photographs are reproduced far too small to allow the details to be examined and this is a shame.

Chapter 3 is the ‘main course’ of this book and focuses on the HAA wagons and some of the locomotives which worked the merry-go-round services. The A4 portrait format allows generous space for large images/drawings and this has been taken advantage of to a degree but the book screams out for some page-size or double page photographs. The author’s trademark detailed drawings are excellent but, once more, frustratingly presented in different scales. I would happily have seen the section on the HAA hoppers spread out over 50 pages but it is drawn to a close after 20.

By comparison the allocation of pages to other topics is positively expansive. No fewer than 18 pages are devoted to derivatives of the merry-go-round principle and 12 pages to fly ash traffic. The bulk of the book, however, covers routes from ports and collieries to power stations and other major users. I only gave this a cursory glance – sufficient to spot that Bidston was mis-spelt at least twice and a temporary coal flow from Bidston to Fidler’s Ferry was shown as more important than that from Gladstone Dock, Liverpool (now Liverpool Bulk Terminal).

Reading back over this review I am conscious that I seem to have given this book a lot of criticism. Perhaps it is partly born of its failure to live up to my expectations rather than inherent problems with the book itself. Luckily I was able to get my copy via an HMRS member for £22 rather than pay the full cover price otherwise my disappointment would have been greater.

Cheers,

Richard
Richard Oldfield
 
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Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:08 pm
Location: Bidston near Birkenhead

Re: Book Review - Merry-go-Round on the Rails

Postby Clive » Sun Jun 10, 2012 8:44 pm

Hi Richard

My friend had a copy at our club a couple of weeks ago. I was most impressed with the broad subject coverage of all aspects of the MGR operation not just the train side of things.

It is one on the Xmas list.

Clive
Clive Mortimore

Model, noun representation in 3 dimensions of existing person or thing or proposed structure esp. on smaller scale.....(Oxford dictionary)
Clive
 
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Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:03 pm

Re: Book Review - Merry-go-Round on the Rails

Postby Richard Oldfield » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:30 am

Hi Clive,
Clive wrote:My friend had a copy at our club a couple of weeks ago. I was most impressed with the broad subject coverage of all aspects of the MGR operation not just the train side of things.
It is one on the Xmas list.


As regards broad subject coverage this book certainly cannot be faulted.
Perhaps it's useful to remind fellow Fred-ites that anyone is welcome to write a review or add/amend/contest reviews that have been written by others.

Cheers,

Richard
Richard Oldfield
 
Posts: 1202
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:08 pm
Location: Bidston near Birkenhead


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